Well, ladies and gents, it’ll be hard to call this a “weekly recap” if I’m not putting one of these out weekly. SO, for the sake of this recap, I’m going to focus on just a handful of games and talk about the areas in which the Colorado Avalanche (6-1-2) have been thriving in, and the areas in which they need to improve on.
COL 2-5 CBJ
Ah yes, the first, and currently the only regulation loss of the season. It was a fascinating and yet infuriating game all at the exact same time. The Avalanche came right out of the gates looking flat, a complete 180 degree turn from their opening games of the year. Undisciplined play in the first half of the opening period saw the Avalanche take a handful of penalties and allowed the Columbus Blue Jackets to take a 2-0 nothing lead. The Avalanche answered back with vengeance in the second period, with goals from Nathan MacKinnon and Carl Soderberg to knot the game up at two after two. Yet, the first period Avalanche returned again and the sloppy play allowed sloppy goals as the Jackets ran away 5-2 at the final horn. Philipp Grubauer got his first start in net for the Avs, saving 30 of the 34 shots he faced (empty net goal). After the game, Grubauer and head coach Jared Bednar echoed similar dissatisfaction with the team not showing up ready to play. One bright spot of the game was the team’s penalty kill, who had to be out on the ice for over half a period of play. The team gave up one power play goal, but made sure the Avs stayed within striking range of the Blue Jackets all game long.
COL 6-1 BUF
Want to see a team taking a loss and turning it on its head? This was the game for you. The Avalanche looked angry and ready to put the Columbus loss behind them. From the opening faceoff, the team presented themselves as the complete package. The forecheck was unyielding, players were eating pucks to keep Semyon Varlamov from making more saves than he had to (Varly saved 30 shots). But two things stood out above all of the others. Firstly, the power play, which ranks eighth in the league at 27.3% scored on half of its chances, netting two goals by Tyson Jost and Colin Wilson just under three minutes apart. The second, which can be inferred by the first, was the abundance of secondary scoring. With the exception of the two MacKinnon goals in the game, the other four were scored by players on lower lines. There was no line that played poorly against Buffalo and the win was a much needed bounce back from the loss two nights prior.
COL 5-3 NJD
Ladies and Gents, Landy got a hatty. LANDY GOT A HATTY! This game was monumental on more than just one front, and Avalanche social media was in hysterics by the end of this game. Gabriel Landeskog grabs a hattrick, the Avalanche decide to beat the then only remaining unbeaten team in the league, and oh yeah, Sven Andrighetto gets his first goal in his first game off of injury. Grubauer made 27 saves on 30 shots, and the team looked like world beaters in this game. The area that the Avalanche struggled most on was the penalty kill, which gave up two goals. The game was fantastic to watch, back and forth all night long with the Avs leading 2-1 at one point then trailing 3-2 with 14 minutes to go in the third. The team stood tall and answered to adversity, downing the original Colorado hockey team in New Jersey.
One of the major banes of last season was that the Avalanche just really did not have major scorers outside of the top line. This season, things appear different. Players like Alexander Kerfoot (six points) and Carl Soderberg (six points) have both risen to the occasion, creating and capitalizing on more scoring chances than seen last year. With J.T. Compher’s injury, the scoring output has diminished a bit from earlier games. Compher has always been an integral part of the lower lines and his absence has been felt.
As already mentioned, the Avalanche’s power play has looked pretty strong since the start of the season, sitting in the top ten. The power play has been where the secondary scoring has been most prominent and it is a refreshing change than to what Avs fans are used to seeing over the past few years. Likewise, the penalty kill has been phenomenal over the first few weeks of the season. The Avalanche currently sit in third place in the league for PK% only behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Avalanche have been successful at killing 90.5% of the penalties they’ve faced. This is a continuation of the shorthanded killing strength the team had last year, which finished fourth in the league at 83.3%
This is a rather weird stat to look at, but it is one that needs to be quickly addressed. The Avalanche are currently 30th in the league at winning faceoffs at 42.7%, just one-tenth of a percent better than the Montreal Canadiens. Why is this big? Low faceoff percentage means that the Avs are more apt to lose crucial defensive zone faceoffs. Which leads to the next point…
YIKES! The Avalanche are continuing a trend the team has seen for the last few years, and that is that the team allows way too many shots to reach their goaltenders. Fortunately, the Avalanche have had Varly and Grub to bail them out of most jams. But the team cannot expect their goaltenders to be so hot. Colorado currently sits 27th in the league in shots allowed, allowing over 35 shots a game to reach their tenders. It’s a troubling trend and one that could kill the Avs momentum down the road.
The Week Ahead:
Oct. 24, vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5-1-1)
Oct. 26, vs. Ottawa Senators (4-2-1)
Oct. 27, @ Minnesota Wild (4-2-2)
Gambling this season?
Want to try it just to see what it feels like? Go to MyBookie.ag and use promo code ARMCHAIR25 at checkout. They will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Putting in $100? You’ll now have $200.